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Chief Of Staff John Kelly Calls Confederate General An "Honorable Man"

He also defended Confederate monuments: "History is history."

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White House Chief of Staff John Kelly said Monday that "the lack of ability to compromise caused the Civil War," and praised Confederate general Robert E. Lee as an "honorable man."

Chief of Staff John Kelly praises Robert E Lee as "honorable man," says "lack of an ability to compromise led to th… https://t.co/rDTyEqWiCy

In a wide ranging interview on Fox News on Monday night, Kelly weighed in on the debate over the removal of Confederate monuments, and offered his views on the Civil War.

"Well, history's history. And there are certain things in history that were not so good and other things that were very, very good," Kelly told host Laura Ingraham, when asked what he thought about the decision to remove plaques honoring both George Washington and Robert E. Lee from a church in Virginia.

"I think we make a mistake, though, and as a society and certainly as individuals, when we take what is today accepted as right and wrong and go back 100, 200, 300 years or more and say what those, you know, what Christopher Columbus did was wrong."

"Robert E. Lee was an honorable man," he continued. "He was a man who gave up his country to fight for his state. It was always loyalty to state back in those days."

Then, in a statement that echoed President Trump's remarks blaming "both sides" for the violence in Charlottesville this summer, Kelly added, "The lack of the ability to compromise led to the Civil War. Men and women of good faith on both sides made their stand where their conscience had them make their stand."

People on the internet were like WTF.

Ah yes, the honorable General Lee who led an army of treasonous men to expand enslavement & brutally beat his own s… https://t.co/25J2vSp7jU

Only really seems appropriate for WH to round out today's news with Kelly giving a defence of Robert E Lee from the podium

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This is insidious nonsense, but also worth mentioning it’s the standard account that was taught in schools for abou… https://t.co/n7kkzEqArL

Enough about John Kelly being the “adult in the room.” He’s out here praising Robert E. Lee and falsifying history.

Kelly also offered his response to special counsel Robert Mueller's probe of possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia, saying that he believes the investigation "should wrap up soon." Asked about the charges against three Trump campaign aides made public Monday, he said the administration "would let the legal justice system work."

"Everyone's innocent until — presumed innocent — and we'll see where it goes," he said.

Former campaign manager Paul Manafort and former campaign official Rick Gates surrendered to Mueller Monday, and former Trump foreign policy advisor pleaded guilty to making a false statement to the FBI after lying about his contacts with foreign nationals tied to the Russian government.

Like other White House officials — and Trump himself — Kelly tried to distance the president from the charges, saying "all of the activities, as I understand it, that they were indicted for was long before they ever met Donald Trump or, or had an association with the campaign."

Kelly also managed to reignite his feud with Democratic Rep. Fredrica Wilson, defending his comments about her and condemning the "politicization" of Trump's handling of his call to the widow of Army Sgt. La David Johnson, who was one of four servicemen killed in Niger earlier this month.

John Kelly on Dispute With Rep. Wilson: 'I Stand by My Comments' | Read more: https://t.co/YSdj63y7g9 #IngrahamAngle

"Do you feel like you have something to apologize for?" Ingraham asked, referencing Kelly's remarks about the congresswoman to the White House press corps, which misrepresented comments Wilson made in a speech two years ago.

"No. Never," Kelly replied. "I’ll apologize if I need to. But for something like that, absolutely not. I stand by my comments."

Referring to Wilson's criticism of Trump's comments to Johnson's widow, Kelly said the Florida Democrat had “every right to say what she wants to say,” while also decrying that Gold Star families had once again been drawn into the political fray.

Michelle Broder Van Dyke is a reporter and night editor for BuzzFeed News and is based in Hawaii.

Contact Michelle Broder Van Dyke at michelle@buzzfeed.com.

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